A Ukrainian official in Mariupol has told CNN that the last holdout of Ukrainian forces in Mariupol — the Azovstal steel complex — has been hit by the heaviest Russian airstrikes yet.
"Last night, the plant was hit by the strongest strike so far. First, there was a massive air strike using seven Tu-22M3 aircraft. Then there were more than 50 air strikes. Apparently, either the Su-25s worked, or the Su-24s. I can't identify since we were in the shelter. The bombing was inflicted on the place where the seriously wounded are — in the hospital," said Mykhailo Vershynin, chief of the Mariupol Patrol Police, who was at Azovstal amid the airstrikes.
"There is a suspicion that after photos from the hospital were published, the place was identified by the enemy. And there was not just a bombing, but a massive bombing strike inflicted there. There is rubble, there are people under the rubble. There are dead and wounded. That is, the wounded are injured once again," he told CNN. "This is a violation of all norms and rules of warfare. This is a violation of the Geneva Convention."
CNN cannot independently confirm the extent of Russian airstrikes nor the casualties they caused.
A week ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin said there was no need to storm the industrial area around the Azovstal steel plant.
"I believe the proposed storming of the industrial zone is no longer necessary," Putin told Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu.
Putin told Shoigu the industrial area should be sealed and those remaining at the plant should once again be offered to surrender in exchange for their lives and a "dignified treatment."
The defenders of Azovstal have repeatedly refused to give up their weapons. There are thought to be several hundred soldiers still there, and hundreds of civilians.